COVID-19: Health advice, what you need to do

by | Mar 30, 2020 | COVID-19, News | 0 comments

The Northern Territory Government is providing comprehensive health advice to help prevents COVID-19 infection and what to do if you begin showing symptoms.

National advice hotline

For information on coronavirus (COVID-19) call the hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days.

1800 020 080

If your symptoms are serious, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.

NT Health instructions

Visit the NT Health coronavirus website for more information.

Contact a doctor if you are unwell

If you are sick and think you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), seek medical attention.

You should call ahead to your doctor or emergency department so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.

If your symptoms are serious, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.

You can check your symptoms on the Australian Government’s healthdirect website.

You should call ahead to your doctor or emergency department so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.

Do I need testing?

If you are not displaying symptoms then you don’t need to be tested.

Instead, focus on the following good hygiene practices to help prevent the virus spreading:

  • cough or sneeze into your arm
  • use a tissue
  • bin the tissues
  • wash your hands

Your doctor will organise testing if they decide you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You have returned from overseas in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever.
  • You have been in close contact with a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever.
  • You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause.
  • You are a healthcare worker who works directly with patients and you have a respiratory illness and a fever.

If you can’t contact or get to your GP, but you have the symptoms, you should call 1800 008 002.

This is a dedicated NT wide coronavirus (COVID-19) number for people who need to arrange testing only.

If you live in Darwin and need to arrange testing, call the Public Health Unit on 8922 8044.

After testing

It may take a few days for the test results to come back.

If you have serious symptoms, you will be kept in hospital and isolated from other patients to prevent the virus spreading.

If your doctor says you are well enough to go home while you wait for your test results, you should do all of the following:

  • self-quarantine at home and do not attend work or school
  • wash your hands often with soap and water
  • cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • avoid cooking for or caring for other members of your household
  • wear the mask your doctor gives you if you can’t avoid close contact with other people.

If your test is positive

You must isolate yourself in your home or health care setting until Public Health authorities inform you it is safe for you to return to your usual activities.


What are the symptoms?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms include:

  • fever (sweats)
  • sore throat
  • cough or shortness of breath
  • tiredness (fatigue).

You can check your symptoms on the Australian Government’s healthdirect website.

How is coronavirus (COVID-19) different from the cold or flu

How is coronavirus different from colds and flu

More information

For more information, go to the Australian Government’s Department of Health website.

Social distancing

What is social distancing and why is it important?

Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases.

It means less contact between you and other people.

Social distancing is important because coronavirus (COVID-19) is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared
  • close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or
  • touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
  • Make it harder for the virus to spread. Increase the space between you and others.

What you can do

If you are sick, stay away from others – that is the most important thing you can do.

You should also practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
  • cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and
  • if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).
  • As well as these, you can start a range of social distancing and low cost hygiene actions now.

These simple, common sense actions help reduce risk to you and to others.

They will help to slow the spread of disease in the community – and you can use them every day – in your home, workplace, school and while out in public.

Social distancing at home


To reduce the spread of germs:

  • practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
  • avoid handshaking and kissing
  • regularly disinfect high touch surfaces, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
  • increase ventilation in the home by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
  • visit shops sparingly and buy more goods and services online
  • consider whether outings and travel, both individual and family, are sensible and necessary.

Households where people are ill (in addition to the measures above):

  • care for the sick person in a single room if possible
  • keep the number of carers to a minimum
  • keep the door to the sick person’s room closed and, if possible, a window
  • both the sick person and the people caring for them should wear a surgical mask when they are in the same room
  • protect other vulnerable family members, such as people over 65 years or people with a chronic illness, including, if practicable, finding alternative accommodation.

Social distancing in the workplace

To reduce the spread of germs in the workplace:

  • stay at home if you are sick
  • stop handshaking as a greeting
  • hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
  • defer large meetings
  • hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
  • promote good hand and sneeze/ cough hygiene and provide hand sanitisers for all staff and workers
  • take lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
  • clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly
  • consider opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more ventilation
  • limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
  • reconsider non-essential business travel
  • promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
  • consider if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled.

Social distancing in schools

To reduce the spread of germs in schools:

  • if your child is sick, do not send them to school (or childcare)
  • sanitise hands when entering school and at regular intervals
  • defer activities that lead to mixing between classes and years
  • avoid queuing and consider cancelling school assemblies
  • promote a regular handwashing schedule
  • clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly
  • conduct lessons outdoors where possible
  • consider opening windows and adjusting conditioning for more ventilation
  • promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts.

Social distancing in public

To reduce the spread of germs:

  • sanitise your hands wherever possible, including entering and leaving buildings
  • use tap and pay rather than handling money
  • try and travel at quiet times and try to avoid crowds
  • public transport workers and taxi drivers should open vehicle windows where possible, and regularly clean and disinfect high touch surfaces.

Things to consider when organising public gatherings

There are rules you must follow if you want to organise a public event or gathering in the Northern Territory.


You must self-isolate if any of the following applies to you:

  • you have coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020

From 4:00 pm Tuesday 24 March, all non-essential travellers arriving at the Territory borders will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, with penalties for those who do not comply.

If you do not need to self-isolate, you should still protect yourself and others.

How to self-isolate

You must stay at home to prevent the possible spread of the virus to other people.

Staying home means you:

  • do not go to public places such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university
  • ask someone to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door
  • do not let visitors in — only people who usually live with you should be in your home
  • do not need to wear a mask in your home, but do wear one if you have to go out (for example to seek medical attention)
  • should stay in touch by phone and online with your family and friends.

Going outside

If you live in a private house, it is safe for you to go into your garden or courtyard.

If you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel, it is also safe for you to go into the garden but you should wear a surgical mask to minimise risk to others. You should also move quickly through common areas.

Monitor symptoms

When in isolation, monitor yourself for symptoms.

What to do if you get sick

Call your doctor for an urgent assessment if you develop symptoms within 14 days of returning to Australia, or within 14 days of last contact of a confirmed case.

Managing isolation

Being in isolation for 14 days can be stressful and boring.

Suggestions include:

  • keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media
  • learn about coronavirus (COVID-19) and talk with others
  • reassure young children using age-appropriate language
  • where possible, keep up normal daily routines, such as eating well and exercise
  • arrange to work from home
  • ask your child’s school to supply assignments or homework by post or email
  • do things that help you relax and use isolation as an opportunity to do activities you don’t usually have time for

Advice for others living with you

If you are well, others that live with you do not need to self-isolate unless they also meet one of the isolation criteria.

However, if you develop symptoms and are suspected to have coronavirus (COVID-19), they will be classified as close contacts and will need to be isolated.

Returning to your community

People who have completed their 14 day period without developing symptoms can return to their daily activities.

Protecting yourself and others

To help reduce the spread and protect those who are most at risk, it is important that you take the recommended steps to protect yourself and others.

To prevent the spread of viruses, practise good hygiene and social distancing.

Good hygiene

Everyone must practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading.

Good hygiene includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • disposing of tissues properly
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
  • cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets
  • If you have a confirmed case, you need to self-isolate to prevent it spreading to other people.

Surgical masks

Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others.

If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask. There is little evidence that widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people prevents transmission in public.


It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief and worry during and after a major event or pandemic.

Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel.

Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.

Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing.

Manage anxiety and stress

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) may be stressful for people.

Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.

Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

  • older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • children and teens
  • people who are helping with the response to coronavirus (COVID-19), like doctors and other healthcare providers, or first responders
  • people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • worsening of chronic health problems
  • increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress.

Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.

Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about coronavirus (COVID-19) from a trusted source and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

When you share accurate information about coronavirus (COVID-19), you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them.

When parents and caregivers deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.

Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:

  • excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • returning to behaviours they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • excessive worry or sadness
  • unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • irritability and “acting out” behaviours in teens
  • poor school performance or avoiding school
  • difficulty with attention and concentration
  • avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • unexplained headaches or body pain
  • use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

There are many things you can do to support your child:

Take time to talk with your child or teen about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about coronavirus (COVID-19) in a way that your child or teen can understand.

  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members

For responders

Responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) can take an emotional toll on you.

There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

  • Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).
  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic
  • Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising or reading a book
  • Take a break from media coverage of coronavirus COVID-19.
  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

For people who have been released from quarantine

Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) can be stressful, even if you do not get sick.

Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine.

Some feelings include:

  • mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
  • fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • sadness, anger or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
  • guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
  • other emotional or mental health changes.

Get help and support

If you, or someone you care about, feel overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, you can talk to someone.

24-hour mental health hotlines

For 24-hour support, you can call:

the Northern Territory Mental Health Line – 1800 682 288

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636

If you or someone you are with is in imminent danger, call 000.

Get more mental health information or 24-hour support services on the website.

Slowing the spread

How coronavirus is spread

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread through close contact and droplets including:

  • touching people or surfaces
  • touching door handles and phones
  • coughs and sneezes.

How to reduce the spread of coronavirus

You can reduce the spread of the virus by doing the following:

  • stay at home if you are sick
  • wash your hands with soap and water before you eat and after coughing and sneezing
  • cover coughs and sneezes by using a tissues or using your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • throw used tissues in the bin
  • avoid close contact with people – practise social distancing
  • don’t smoke
  • take medications.


Events and gatherings

Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings

Updated: 23 March 2020

Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings will be implemented from midday local time 23 March 2020 and will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

The restrictions support social distancing measures already put in place and protect the Australian community from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)

gyms and indoor sporting venues

cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs

restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery

religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.

What places are not included?

Schools will remain open through to the end of the current school terms, and will re-open at the end of the school break, subject to the advice of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee.

Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.

Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under stage 2 restrictions, if necessary.

Why is this important?

Practicing good hygiene and keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals is our most powerful weapon in fighting this virus and saving lives. The failure of some businesses and members of the public to do this puts people’s lives at risk.

If we want to slow the spread, everyone must implement appropriate social distancing in accordance with state and territory laws.

Every extra bit of time allows us to better prepare our health system and put measures in place to protect Australian lives.

We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs.


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